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Intellectual Property: A Thought Experiment

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Moving on... (He said she said doesn't help anything and I want to keep this on topic. Post in that other thread if you find it necessary.) I'm using this thought experiment to ask specific question

Property rights, like all rights, are a right to action, not objects, materials, etc. Seems like everyone is ignoring this, and treating property rights as the right to materials and objects. The i

Not virgin land, without inhabitants or signs of civilization; no.  But anything you do TO the land or WITH the land will allow you to define it ostensibly.   I would argue that land-ownership is no

Well the upshot of it all is simply this.  Yes, Franz' piano is the same as Wolfgang's piano, in a certain sense- but not as actually being identical.

 

Like the Ship of Theseus, this is a borderline case of identities in which either answer (the same or not the same) is equally valid, epistemologically.  But follow the implications through.

 

If it is the same piano then it belongs to Franz and Wolfgang has, by building it without permission, stolen it; therefore it MUST be treated as the stolen property it is and confiscated immediately.  If it is the same piano then we must treat it as the same; we must treat it as if Wolfgang had literally taken it.

 

If so then Franz DOES have the right to destroy it, or to do anything else he pleases with it- it's his piano!

 

If so then nobody may ever build an invention without the inventor's consent- because that IS THEFT, by its identity!

Try integrating that principle; that's as far as I got before I decided against IP.

 

That's why I disagree, pure and simple.  I think it leads to an unreal standard of conduct which cannot be practiced by human beings on Earth.

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If so then nobody may ever build an invention without the inventor's consent- because that IS THEFT, by its identity!

Basically. What the proper legal recourse is remains a separate topic, but yes, the principle would be that no one would ever be able to build an invention without the owner's consent. What's the issue with that? No one can eat food without the producer's consent, no one can live in any house they want without the owner's consent, etc. Property rights, by nature of being a proper basis for trade, don't result in stifling of creativity any more than The Man is holding you down with ownership of capital, factories, etc. So, I don't know what unrealistic standard you are talking about.

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The same way we establish what rights ought to be in general. By looking at what kind of principles protect man's freedom to engage in self-sustaining action, on whatever scale his skill and intellect allow for.

I said this above too, but it was in a way too long post, so I'll just post it again here: The question is does IP serve that purpose, or stifle it?

 

I think this is the right way to approach the question.

 

I think that's an easy question to answer, and Ayn Rand answered it by noting that the most fruitful, important kind of self sustaining actions are intellectual in nature. We must protect them before anything else, if we are to thrive.

 

The action of building a piano -- which is both "intellectual" and "physical" -- is protected in the resultant property status of the piano. One piano built equals one piece of property.

The "action" of designing a piano alone accomplishes nothing in terms of material values, which are ultimately what we need in order to survive, and there is thus nothing to be protected. The further action of "embodying" that design in a single piano creates: a single piano. One piece of property, just as before. The property of that entire package -- one piano and the design of same -- is one piano.

Thus, "the most fruitful, important kind of self sustaining actions," which are actually both intellectual and physical in nature (for those are the kinds of actions which produce pianos, as opposed to producing nothing), are already fully protected in ordinary (as opposed to "intellectual") property rights.

And yes, it is easy to answer whether IP stifles "self-sustaining action" generally. Ayn Rand answered that question definitively when she observed that IP, held in perpetuity, would reduce production to zero. Thus a great deal of IP stifles self-sustaining action completely, and a little IP yet stifles self-sustaining action, though not as much.

 

Ok, I think I see what you mean. So, then, the thing to show in this case is that Franz, by designing a piano and sharing his design with others, for a price, is engaging in life sustaining action. But, if Wolfgang is just allowed to buy Franz's piano, copy it, and then build the same design without Franz's permission, then Franz's ability to design pianos for a living is stifled. Wolfgang is not engaging in life sustaining action, he is in fact a parasite, taking away from Franz's ability to create.

 

This is treating production as a zero-sum game, and it is wrong.  Wolfgang's building his own piano does not harm Franz, and one man growing richer does not impoverish another.  When Wolfgang builds his piano, Franz has as many pianos as ever he did, and all of the same rights to the marketplace as before, to buy, sell or trade as he can persuade others to engage him.  Franz is not diminished.

 

If Franz proposes to make his living selling pianos to others -- and thus we say that, in "allowing" Wolfgang to build his own piano, Franz's ability to sell pianos for a living "is stifled" -- it is just as well. Franz never had the right to make a living by imposing such restrictions on the freedom of others to act in service of their own lives. And if Wolfgang "got the idea" to build such a piano through observation of Franz or his creations, such that we believe that we can trace Wolfgang's gains in this way to Franz's efforts, that is just as well, as well.

 

In "copying" a design -- building something for himself, with all of the mental and physical effort that necessarily entails, though he did not innovate it originally -- Wolfgang is not a parasite at all. He is acting as all human beings do in learning from our observations of others and then putting that learning in our own service. By working to produce our own material values, we do not act as parasites, but we are the very soul of productivity.

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in #55 DonAthos said

The action of building a piano -- which is both "intellectual" and "physical" -- is protected in the resultant property status of the piano. One piano built equals one piece of property.

The "action" of designing a piano alone accomplishes nothing in terms of material values, which are ultimately what we need in order to survive, and there is thus nothing to be protected. The further action of "embodying" that design in a single piano creates: a single piano. One piece of property, just as before. The property of that entire package -- one piano and the design of same -- is one piano.

 

 

This is an example of  the line of reasonning I question when discussing the validity of IP in a rational division of labor society and why it seems that this line blanks out on integrating the idea of commerce.

 

If simply designing a piano renders no material values, does this apply to 'design' as such? have architects hoodwinked us all? If you pay someone (give them material value, trade )  to design a building but all you receive is a value-less design haven't you been taken advantage of?

Or is the mental effort of applying knowledge to a problem and creating a solution a recognizable 'thing'? If it is a 'thing' in this sense , then can we not apply principles such as rights in property to it? Or does the lack of physicality remove it from the realm of materail value, that no individuals could mutually decide on a monetary value in order to trade for a purely 'mental' product?

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If simply designing a piano renders no material values, does this apply to 'design' as such? have architects hoodwinked us all? If you pay someone (give them material value, trade )  to design a building but all you receive is a value-less design haven't you been taken advantage of?

 

There can be value in a thing that is yet not property, or material. You trade value for value with an architect -- and the blueprints themselves would certainly be property, if that is at issue -- just as I may pay you for any conceivable value, such as your company, or your advice, or etc., even if none of this falls under any proposed property or "intellectual property" scheme.

Trade does not alone have to be among material values.

 

Or is the mental effort of applying knowledge to a problem and creating a solution a recognizable 'thing'? If it is a 'thing' in this sense , then can we not apply principles such as rights in property to it? Or does the lack of physicality remove it from the realm of materail value, that no individuals could mutually decide on a monetary value in order to trade for a purely 'mental' product?

 

Property is a very specific category of thing, with its own attendant rules and implications. It does not apply to "anything which may be valued." Between us, we could certainly decide on a monetary value (or a non-monetary value) for any exchange whether of material or non-material or some combination between the two. I could sing you a song for your smile. But you would not therefore own smiling, or have the right to demand that no other man may smile as you do, because that's how you plan on making your living, or possess any other "property" in your smile in any way that we otherwise recognize such things (notwithstanding the fact that your lips are your own, and so forth, which is comparable in the present discussion to the observation that you "own" the chemicals in your brain that allow for the idea of the piano in your mind).

 

We all of us possess, trade, and trade for, a great many valuable things that are not property.  What is more, we create and give away (!) value for which we have no proprietary interest, and for which we may demand no legal compensation, all the time.  It may be the case that my handsome face is the thing that inspires a woman to the heights of her art -- and it may well be that without having seen me, and without my efforts to become the handsome devil that I am -- her art would not exist.  Yet her art is her own, and I have no stake in that art qua property.  (Whether she "owes" me anything at all, in justice, is another consideration.  We may also consider whether, when you play the piano, you owe anything to all of the thousands of men whose innovations, large or small, amounted to the instrument we have today, and what precisely you owe them, but that is a separate issue and conversation.)

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The action of building a piano -- which is both "intellectual" and "physical" -- is protected in the resultant property status of the piano. One piano built equals one piece of property.

The "action" of designing a piano alone accomplishes nothing in terms of material values, which are ultimately what we need in order to survive

What's the difference between "ultimately need" and just plain need?

The answer is, nothing. There can not possibly be any difference. You either need something to live, or you don't. If there's a set of things that you need to live, than the only thing you could possibly need anything less for is to die. Saying that there's a set of things that you "ultimately need" to live, that's different than the set of things that you need to live, is a contradiction.

So, if you know there's no difference, why did you use "ultimately need"? I'll answer this question too: to avoid having to prove me wrong on my claim that I need the products of my intellectual work to survive. Don't make false distinctions to avoid the issue. Do men need the products of intellectual work to live? Yes or no?

And yes, it is easy to answer whether IP stifles "self-sustaining action" generally. Ayn Rand answered that question definitively when she observed that IP, held in perpetuity, would reduce production to zero. Thus a great deal of IP stifles self-sustaining action completely, and a little IP yet stifles self-sustaining action, though not as much.

Ayn Rand was against IP being held in perpetuity, but not because she thought IP in general stifled productivity. It's because she thought that IP, and property in general, when held by someone who hasn't earned it, stifles productivity. With material possessions, that's not an issue, since material possessions don't last forever. If someone who hasn't earned them holds them, they'll just squander them, and that's that. But it is an issue with patents and copyrights. We can't have some asshole squandering the products of his ancestor's intellect. (at least that was the jist or Rand's argument, at some point - I'm not really on board with that, and she didn't seem to stay on board long either; my position is that we can't have anyone, original owner or not, abusing IP rights - but it's fine to have whoever the original owner transferred ownership to, exercise those rights in their self interest, for as long as that's possible and practical)

Anyway, that's why, at one point in her life, she was against the transfer of IP: because a person who hasn't created a product of the intellect shouldn't be in charge of its use. She held that the intellect dies with the person, and so does the exclusive right to manage its products. At least that is something she believed at one point in her life. Clearly not at the end, when she left her intellectual property to Leonard Peikoff (and spoke in favor of current copyright laws, which last longer than a lifetime, many times). But nonetheless she did make that argument at some point.

Personally, I agree with her latter choice. I think that the creator of IP can in fact sell it, or choose another intellect to manage it. Ownership of IP can still be earned by a second party, by convincing the original creator of the merit of transferring that ownership. There should still be a time limit on patents and copyrights, but not set in stone at the time of the original owner's death. (I mentioned what I think the criteria should be instead, in my previous posts - that might lead to shorter or longer limits than the creator's lifespan, depending on the products in question)

Also, that quote ("IP, held in perpetuity, would reduce production to zero") seems dubious at best. Where is it supposed to be from?

P.S. My description of "what Rand believed about the transfer of IP at some point in her life" comes from an onsourced quote on this site: http://objectivistanswers.com/questions/2147/should-intellectual-property-be-held-in-perpetuity ; I hate unsourced quotes, but it looks legit, and sound like Rand, so I'm going with it.

Edited by Nicky
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What's the difference between "ultimately need" and just plain need?

 

The difference in my use is demonstrated in that which you've already quoted:

"The 'action' of designing a piano alone accomplishes nothing in terms of material values, which are ultimately what we need in order to survive."

If you want to talk about the importance of "intellectual labor," as when you observed that "the most fruitful, important kind of self sustaining actions are intellectual in nature," then I think that it's necessary to point out that your "self-sustaining actions," of themselves, will not suffice to sustain the self. That self-sustenance ultimately requires both intellectual and physical labor, together, for the production of material values. And this recognition calls into question (in my mind alone if not in yours) the elevation of "intellectual labor" over "physical labor" where the production of material values are concerned, or treating their supposedly separate products separately.

 

The answer is, nothing. There can not possibly be any difference. You either need something to live, or you don't. If there's a set of things that you need to live, than the only thing you could possibly need anything less for is to die. Saying that there's a set of things that you "ultimately need" to live, that's different than the set of things that you need to live, is a contradiction.

So, if you know there's no difference, why did you use "ultimately need"? I'll answer this question too: to avoid having to prove me wrong on my claim that I need the products of my intellectual work to survive. Don't make false distinctions to avoid the issue. Do men need the products of intellectual work to live? Yes or no?

 

Men need material values to live. Material values are the products of both intellectual and physical labor, together, and as such they are both necessary to survive (and neither will do any good without the other). Speaking of "the products of intellectual work" separately is a fiction. Property -- ordinary property, quite apart from "intellectual property" -- is "the product of intellectual work," and property rights (again, apart from "patents" or "copyrights") already serve to protect those products.

 

Also, that quote ("IP, held in perpetuity, would reduce production to zero") seems dubious at best. Where is it supposed to be from?

 

That quote (which is in my words) is my paraphrase of Rand's observation on IP in perpetuity from "Patents and Copyrights":

 

If it were held in perpetuity, it would lead to the opposite of the very principle on which it is based: it would lead, not to the earned reward of achievement, but to the unearned support of parasitism. It would become a cumulative lien on the production of unborn generations, which would ultimately paralyze them. Consider what would happen if, in producing an automobile, we had to pay royalties to the descendants of all the inventors involved, starting with the inventor of the wheel and on up. Apart from the impossibility of keeping such records, consider the accidental status of such descendants and the unreality of their unearned claims.

 

When she says that such a thing would "become a cumulative lien on the production of unborn generations, which would ultimately paralyze them," I think I am fair in recasting that as "reduc[ing] production to zero." And I'll also note that this paragraph seems to place the emphasis of her thoughts against IP-perpetuity upon the disastrous effects of cumulative IP, generally, rather than her subsequent observation on "the accidental status of such descendants," or "some asshole," as you put it, with also a nod to "the impossibility of keeping such records."  If you continue to disagree on this point, you're welcome to it; I think Rand's words speak for themselves.

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the principle would be that no one would ever be able to build an invention without the owner's consent. What's the issue with that?

Seriously?

 

Ask yourself this: if Wolfgang had taken Franz' blueprints, added a little detail of his own and THEN built it, does Franz still own it?  If not then there is no issue here because that razes the entire concept of IP to a friendly suggestion.

If so then no production of any sort can EVER be possible.

 

If the only moral action is truly original action; that which nobody has ever conceived of before, then no actions are possible to anyone- except perhaps flailing around in place, as randomly as possible, until hunger and fatigue induce the greatest cliché of all- death.

Name a single item or method which does not incorporate the ideas of a single other person, and then invalidate it- because you just thought of it.

-----------------------------------------

 

Yes, this all runs on the assumption that the permission of the inventor will not be given, which is a rather large assumption.  It very well might be (it's done all the time, nowadays).  But in the words of Ayn Rand:

"If, before undertaking some action, you must obtain the permission of society—you are not free, whether such permission is granted to you or not. Only a slave acts on permission."

 

Now project the number of people whose ideas have birthed the modern computer, battery, et cetera; the number of permissions you must acquire in order to MORALLY PRODUCE ANYTHING AT ALL.

 

In short: stop and think about it.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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It's easy enough to say that only specific and unique designs can be patented (this piano or that piano, as opposed to THE piano).  But this completely evades the hierarchal nature of knowledge.

It's easy enough to deny that IP is conceptual ownership and then begin the semantic gyrations, in order to deny the consequences therein.

It's easy enough to justify patents by their necessary role in production- and then deny the role of discoveries, in full, on the basis that they aren't "creation" [as if invention alone is].  This, specifically, is the conflation of physical objects with their mental representation.

 

And an arbitrary time-limit, imposed by governmental mandate and hypothetical gunpoint, on an individual's ownership of his supposed property? . . .  Well, sure; why not?

 

If intellectual property is analogous to actual property then why is it okay for the government to confiscate it?  And how exactly would this integrate into hands-off Capitalism?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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Seriously?

 

Ask yourself this: if Wolfgang had taken Franz' blueprints, added a little detail of his own and THEN built it, does Franz still own it?  If not then there is no issue here because that razes the entire concept of IP to a friendly suggestion.

If so then no production of any sort can EVER be possible.

 

If the only moral action is truly original action; that which nobody has ever conceived of before, then no actions are possible to anyone- except perhaps flailing around in place, as randomly as possible, until hunger and fatigue induce the greatest cliché of all- death.

Name a single item or method which does not incorporate the ideas of a single other person, and then invalidate it- because you just thought of it.

-----------------------------------------

 

Yes, this all runs on the assumption that the permission of the inventor will not be given, which is a rather large assumption.  It very well might be (it's done all the time, nowadays).  But in the words of Ayn Rand:

"If, before undertaking some action, you must obtain the permission of society—you are not free, whether such permission is granted to you or not. Only a slave acts on permission."

 

Now project the number of people whose ideas have birthed the modern computer, battery, et cetera; the number of permissions you must acquire in order to MORALLY PRODUCE ANYTHING AT ALL.

 

In short: stop and think about it.

I feel like this is the kind of hyperbole that doesn't really advance the discussion. If people have to respect IP rights, how would that cause all production to stop? You say it like it's obvious, if only we "stop and think about it," but I mean, we have a (rather imperfect) IP regime right now, and yet production continues. The "modern computer, battery, et cetera" were all invented under an IP regime, and production continues. Why does obtaining the permission of an inventor to use their creation stop me from producing or force me to "flail around in place"... I don't get it?? You state it, but don't explain.

 

Also you are quite abusing this AR quote, don't you think? It's question begging to assert obtaining permission of an inventor is equal to slavery, as was mentioned before, any assignment of property rights will limit someone's control over something and therefore force someone to "obtain permission" before appropriating it. If I have a property right in my car, does that mean you're a slave cause you have to obtain my permission to drive it?

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Divided into two parts, part 1 at Don, part 2 at Harrison.

 

Do you disagree on how I described property? Do you disagree about the *reason* I said Theseus would still own the same ship? How does my thought experiment change when you take away the immediately concrete re-building and use a *duplication* instead? Answer any or all of these questions.

I'm repeating this Don because I really want to know. It's important to anything else a post about here, so it's important you answer these. If I've overlooked something you've asked me that you think is really important, then just ask again. You make long posts, so I forget to get back to your questions at times. It happens.

The property of that entire package -- one piano and the design of same -- is one piano.


Right!! My point of disagreement is what constitutes "one piano". Do you mean one kind of piano, or literally the particles that make up a piano? We're not talking about merely some dream piano Franz dreamed up that he hopes someone builds in the future. I made my scenario clear on the fact that Franz not only had a feasible plan of action, he also built the kind of piano. Please go back to my idea about if Theseus' ship still remains Theseus' ship - in what sense is it the same ship? I'm saying that the conceptual distinction of an object is the one that counts for intellectual property, but does not necessarily count for the piano object itself. I'm strictly talking about production, not things that have been created already, nor things not possible to create. Producing a design of a piano is a self-sustaining action to the degree the pianos will be made (otherwise it would be equivalent to a squatter - an invalid claim to property anyway), so I find it proper to say and allow that producer to say how the whole process may or may not continue. Of course that isn't the whole picture, but at the very least I don't know what you refer to when you say "one piano". There are several senses of equality: "Franz Brand Piano" and "Ludwig Brand Piano" and even "that green and purple piano with the Franz Brand label which I painted last week, so it is a different piano than it was two weeks ago".

*

if Wolfgang had taken Franz' blueprints, added a little detail of his own and THEN built it, does Franz still own it?


Depends how "little". Did he glue a flowerpot to the piano? If so, then no, nothing essential has changed.
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If people have to respect IP rights, how would that cause all production to stop?

Nonconsentual production=theft.  If permission is not given:

 

Yes, this all runs on the assumption that the permission of the inventor will not be given, which is a rather large assumption.

 Then respecting IP means halting all production.  Somewhat hyperbolic, yes, but already addressed.

 

 

The "modern computer, battery, et cetera" were all invented under an IP regime, and production continues.

Because this IP regime puts severe restrictions on such intellectual rights, how they may be used, for how long and for how much (et cetera) and otherwise dilutes them.

 

If you want to build an iPod today, you must obtain one person's permission: Bill Gates (I think).

If we accept the principle that nonconsentual production=theft and attempt to act on that, consistently, you should obtain the permission of: Bill Gates, Pascal, Colmar, Herman Hollerith, Babbage, and anyone else who contributed to the invention of the iPod.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_science

And then begin obtaining permission for the inventors of every material and procedure which is used to create iPods.

 

 

Why does obtaining the permission of an inventor to use their creation stop me from producing or force me to "flail around in place"... I don't get it?? You state it, but don't explain.

 Because the principle is that it is immoral to mimick other people; the converse of which is that it is only moral to be original.

Albeit highly exaggerated.  Sorry.

 

What I was getting at was that if a man must act without the use of anyone else's knowledge or ideas, except his own, he is not likely to last very long.

 

 

Also you are quite abusing this AR quote, don't you think?

 Not at all.  It was (if I remember correctly) from an essay concerning modern businessmens' obligation to ask governmental permission before beginning any endeavor; I think it's equally applicable.

 http://aynrandlexicon.com/lexicon/permission_(vs_rights).html

 

If I have a property right in my car, does that mean you're a slave cause you have to obtain my permission to drive it?

 Not unless I'm locked inside.

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Franz takes Wolfgang to court and the judge declares that the piano belongs to Franz, because it's the piano that he built (by conceptual extension).

But much to Franz' dismay, Steinway walks into the courtroom and declares that he owns all grand pianos- therefore it's really his.  And Alpheus Babcock's.  And Henry Pape's.  And John Broadwood's.

Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Piano

 

Since it's Franz' by virtue of its identity then, so too is it everyone else's prior to Franz, all the way back to the inventor of the first stringed instrument in history- in the same way and for the same reasons.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

If you were on a camping trip one day and, while you were asleep, I bought all of the land surrounding you and erected electric fences- you might start calling my property rights slavery.  The same goes if one takes IP to its logical conclusion.

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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His brand of piano is distinct. . .

The stance I take is that he owns the coupling of an idea with the corresponding physical goods made from that idea. Keep in mind, since property is what one needs to maintain their existence, and by extension, their flourishing. (I’m skipping a lot of inductive steps, I know, I can’t write a book here.) To be able to define what is actually part of maintaining one’s existence (as related to their personal evaluations and decisions), we need to have a reasonable constraint to its range of application. This way, claims to property can be objectively evaluated. A range of application isn’t as simple as saying a physical boundary. That may apply to a basketball, but not an open cattle range - there is no intrinsic boundary to land. Some degree of value is needed as well, otherwise there would be no need to recognize any existents in a special way with regard to individuals.

We've been over land already; you own what you DO with the land and not the land, itself- otherwise I claim the moon.

 

Please define 'reasonable constraint' and 'objective value' as they would apply to patents and copyrights.  I see nothing here about Franz' piano which is not also true of grand pianos or simply pianos, as such.

 

If I cultivated neurons in a pitri dish into a functional computing mechanism and attempted to patent it, would it count as a computer or as something new?  If something new then don't I own all derivative instances of it?

If not then why can't Wolfgang stick a potted plant onto Franz' piano?

 

What is the ideal compromise between all such factors?

Edited by Harrison Danneskjold
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Please define 'reasonable constraint' and 'objective value' as they would apply to patents and copyrights.  I see nothing here about Franz' piano which is not also true of grand pianos or simply pianos, as such.

See the OP for the question on value. See post #20 for my idea of "privileged use".

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First off, I don't think that self-ownership should be part of the story in explaining property (I also don't think one owns the information in their head). It's more sensible to talk about how property is a right to action of one's body in the first place. If you own your body, then what are you anyway? What would then own *that*? There is an infinite regression that can only be done with integration of mind and body where there is no outside agent that owns either. Homunculism is false, in other words. Since I reject self-ownership as a valid concept, the only story of property that I can tell is about the abstract nature of what I may use according to own will. My relationship to reality is only by means of abstraction as related to perception, lest we live like bears and own a cave by sitting inside. For *sustaining* flourishing, actual goods relating to abstractions are necessary, like a particular house. Whether I own myself does not enter into the equation, nor do the particles/tangibility of something become fundamental characteristics. But at the same time, all that can sustain my flourishing is action in the world. A problem comes in at this point, since I'm only implying that one needs to use the what they produce. But what, in fact, qualifies as being a produced? To stick to the dispute at hand, does a blueprint/patent for a piano qualify as produced in the same sense as you produce a house out of trees that you cut down? If a blueprint/patent is not produced in that same sense, then IP is invalid.

Again, the particles are not what fundamentally make anything unique and having identity. For the standard ship of Theseus question answered in an Aristotelian way, what counts even more are types of causation, or to use Objectivist terms, the measurements retained after abstraction (let's say at least the important features). Replacing each piece one by one won't result in not-Theseus' ship. But in my modified case, does Franz rebuilding his piano out  of the same pieces, does Franz end up with a new piano? Or is it the same piano?

Well if you didn't agree with self-ownership at all, that's one thing, but I don't think it affects much of the rest of the story. I don't see how it's more sensible to talk about property as a "right of action of one's body" as opposed to "self-ownership" since that's exactly what "self-ownership" refers to. So in that sense, self-ownership is a part of the story about taking action to sustain your well-being, since the concept of action requires you to answer the question "what am I justifiably permitted to do with my own physical body here and now?" Then a Spoonerian account of production can suffice to justify IP. But note that this will be tied into self-ownership. If you appropriate my stuff be it tangible or intangible, then you are appropriating certain actions I have taken (certain expenditures of labor my body has made), and so are coercively intervening in my attempt to sustain my well-being.

 

I don't think this implies or relies on a homunculus argument or infinite regression at all. Your body is part of what may be referred to as "you" (I am somewhat Lockean on the concept of personhood.) Then who owns that... well you do. That's what the "self" in self-ownership refers to. There is no infinite regress. The thing doing the owning and the thing being owned are the same. No metaphysical dualism or mind-body dichotomy is implied anymore than saying "you have a right of action of your body." I mean sure, you could probably conceive of a dualist conception of self-ownership, but couldn't you also conceive of a (common-sense) non-dualist one?

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See the OP for the question on value. See post #20 for my idea of "privileged use".

 Post #20 essentially says that there must be some limits on the applicable range of patents and copyrights, with several references to the borders of geographically-defined property.  It mentions that there must be some sort of value involved, which I assume to be a reference to objective valuation?

So this is what I gather, sofar:

 

Effort+ Knowledge [obtained- somehow]+ Value+ Constraint [??????????]= Conceptual ownership

 

Again, physical ownership is effortless because it's perceptual; one only has to point at it.  But now that we've taken that first step into conceptual ownership, suddenly all sorts of restrictions and limitations are necessary for the division of one person's property from another's- and these will not be provided automatically.

 

If you propose a restriction on what is patentable (such as grand pianos), you must explain why.

Grand pianos would be overly broad, alright- why?  What defines this scope and why should we make such a distinction?  On what basis?

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If you propose a restriction on what is patentable (such as grand pianos), you must explain why.

Grand pianos would be overly broad, alright- why?  What defines this scope and why should we make such a distinction?  On what basis?

 

 

reason

 

 

or how to use it

 

and ,btw ,what is it.....?...epistemology?

 

ever hear of any good ones?

 

I think it's a mistake to try to sort out specific questions of "too broad" or "too narrow" at this stage in the discussion, when there isn't yet agreement on more fundamental matters. It would be like fitting a man for a noose before his murder trial. And I don't see, in any event, how we'll find anything at the root of the answers we give but people's whim, though perhaps that's my bias showing. For if I'm right about IP -- as I believe that I am -- then the application of IP is bound to be a mess of arbitrariness and rationalizations...

But okay. Let's indulge for a moment, since "reason" is such a thoughtful reply to Harrison's question, and see whether reason holds that "the piano" should be patentable, as such, or whether that's "too broad," as often claimed.

Hmm...

Do we think, when the "piano" was first invented, that it was immediately understood to be the herald of some new, broad categorical type of instrument, such that a patent over "pianos" would be judged "too broad" and disallowed? Or is it likelier to have been considered some "specific" instance or development of previous musical instruments?

Let's look at Wikipedia on "the piano" (under #history):

 

The piano was founded on earlier technological innovations. The first string instruments with struck strings were the hammered dulcimers. During the Middle Ages, there were several attempts at creating stringed keyboard instruments with struck strings. By the 17th century, the mechanisms of keyboard instruments such as the clavichord and the harpsichord were well known. In a clavichord the strings are struck by tangents, while in a harpsichord they are plucked by quills. Centuries of work on the mechanism of the harpsichord in particular had shown the most effective ways to construct the case, soundboard, bridge, and keyboard for a mechanism intended to hammer strings.

The invention of the modern piano is credited to Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655–1731) of Padua, Italy, who was employed by Ferdinando de' Medici, Grand Prince of Tuscany, as the Keeper of the Instruments. He was an expert harpsichord maker, and was well acquainted with the body of knowledge on stringed keyboard instruments. It is not known exactly when Cristofori first built a piano. An inventory made by his employers, the Medici family, indicates the existence of a piano by the year 1700; another document of doubtful authenticity indicates a date of 1698. The three Cristofori pianos that survive today date from the 1720s.

While the clavichord allowed expressive control of volume and sustain, it was too quiet for large performances. The harpsichord produced a sufficiently loud sound, but had little expressive control over each note. The piano was likely formed as an attempt to combine loudness with control, avoiding the trade-offs of available instruments.

 

All right. So, armed with this knowledge, what seems likeliest "in reason"? That "the piano" stood immediately as some broad category of new instrument, such that it couldn't be patented, as such? Or regarded as an incremental improvement upon earlier technologies -- a specific blend of harpsichord and clavichord -- and fully patentable? Why shouldn't Cristofori own "the piano"?

Interesting to note, too, that the article picks up later, saying of the spread of the piano:

 

Cristofori's new instrument remained relatively unknown until an Italian writer, Scipione Maffei, wrote an enthusiastic article about it in 1711, including a diagram of the mechanism. This article was widely distributed, and most of the next generation of piano builders started their work due to reading it. One of these builders was Gottfried Silbermann, better known as an organ builder. Silbermann's pianos were virtually direct copies of Cristofori's, with one important addition: Silbermann invented the forerunner of the modern damper pedal, which lifts all the dampers from the strings simultaneously.

 

It's too much for me to try to sort through all of this right now, and especially when doubtless there are many hidden details to the actual history, but I think it's interesting (and potentially illuminating) to compare this abbreviated tale to the discussions we've had about blueprints, reverse engineering, and so forth. I think it's at least conceivable, given certain proposed IP schemes and arguments, that we could regard the above as some great injustice. A big mess of "copycatting" and parasitism. (In fact, maybe even the invention of the piano itself was a parasitical act, as Cristofori "stole" so many ideas and innovations from his forebears.)

It is amusing to me to think that with some stricter (and maybe more... consistent?) application of IP, the piano itself might have died some obscure death, or maybe never have been invented at all, just as Nosferatu apparently should have burned at the stake completely.  If Ayn Rand argued that too much IP would throttle production, as I maintain that she did, perhaps we may still yet manage it!

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  • 9 months later...

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=25747&hl=

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=26425&hl=

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=16105&hl=

http://forum.objectivismonline.com/index.php?showtopic=25232&hl=

. . . . .

 

Franz invents a new type of piano.  Wolfgang sees this design and duplicates it, without permission.

Objectively, Wolfgang should acknowledge the role Franz played in the creation of his piano- because:

 

To pretend that the original Franz brand piano was irrelevant to that act of production, would be evasive; it would cause a disconnect between Wolfgang's mind and the facts of reality.  Since Wolfgang's mind is his primary tool of survival, to evade the truth (about anything) is an act of self-destruction.

And since acting in any way which contradicts one's beliefs is also immoral (the purpose of knowledge is action), Wolfgang must admit that his piano was inspired by Franz design.

It is the only moral course of action.

 

However, if Wolfgang does not have the right to build such pianos without permission, then Franz cannot have the right to build on any earlier designs without permission.

That is the only just way to implement conceptual property.

 

And if conceptual property cannot be used without its owner's consent then this discussion, itself, is immoral; we're using all sorts of concepts that other people invented, without their express permission.

 

If an innovator has the right to dispose of those concepts he creates, then none of us have the right to act accordingly.

 

If IP is moral then in order to respect it, you cannot obey it.

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Patents (IP) do not exclude persons from conceptualization, or from speaking. 

 

 

Concepts per se cannot and are not the subject of intellectual property rights.

 

 

Thinking, feeling, imagining, conceptualizing, as such never were and simply are not part of the discussion of IP.

 

 

You are getting way off track here.

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